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I Got Busted Spanking in Suburbia

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Attention white people, we spank our kids. And I'm not going to be ashamed of it anymore.

woman with crying child

Kimberly Seals Allers: My parents spanked me. In fact, spanking is really your term, not ours--We got beatings. Straight up. And before you call the local child welfare bureau, let me explain.

My Mom and Dad beat with love. They'd sit you down and explain why you were going to get it, how much it hurt them more than it hurt you and then one of them would give it to you. Afterward, my mom would hug you, tell you that she loved you and leave you there to whimper and sniff yourself to sleep.

It was discipline with love, not child abuse. A few years ago when Jamie Foxx, while accepting a groundbreaking Oscar, thanked him grandmother for beating him and keeping him straight, white folks went crazy. But black people completely understood. We know how our mamas, grandmamas, and aunties beat us with love -- and then sent us outside to walk it off!

Until recently, I've never had to spank my children. But I've never ruled it out of my parenting playbook. The Bible says, 'spare the rod and spoil the child,' and I never claim to be wiser than Him.

Up until recently, I've only used the belt as a "memory enhancer." For example, sometimes at night they forget they were told to be quiet, go to sleep and stop talking, playing, or asking for a drink of water. At this point, I simply take out the belt, drape it over their doorknob and magically they remember what they were told to do. Amazing!

However, a few months ago, I spanked my daughter for the first time. Not a beating like I got, but about three "licks" because she had (very, very surprisingly) done something that really crossed the line. And I really needed her to get the point that this was beyond unacceptable.

I did exactly as my mother had done, lovingly explaining to her while holding her in my arms why she about to get it.

I took a deep breath.

I didn't think I could, but now I had to keep my word, at least for one lick.

My daughter, being a tween dramatic expert, started screaming as if she was getting a real beating, like I used to get. The noise began well before contact was ever even made. Even then, I only gave her one spank.

It never dawned on me that the bedroom window was half open.

Apparently, a neighbor heard her Oscar-worthy performance. Oy vay! And not even a real neighbor, but the not too respectable live-in boyfriend of my actual neighbor (you know the kind that is never seen without a beer in hand) Apparently, he told another neighbor that I beat my kids and he was watching me.

Thankfully everyone on my block sees me bike riding with my kids, skateboarding with my kids, pulling them in a wagon for nightly summertime strolls, and otherwise actively engaged with my children and knew not to pay the beer guy any mind. But it really bothered me!

The funny part is that when I told my black girlfriends, who also live in white suburbia, what happened, their first response was, "Girl, you should know to close the windows and turn the TV or radio on! What were you thinking?"

Apparently, I had broke the "how to spank your kids around white people rules" and didn't even know it. Why didn't I get the memo?

Which made me think, why do we hide that we spank with love from the world? I'm not talking about spanking with anger or any abuse. But I am talking about old-fashioned values and respect and a good tap of the "memory box" when all else fails. Somehow the good of a well-deserved beating got tossed in with the bad, and then all beatings became a dirty word. A sinful parenting act. And I just don't agree.

Our parents weren't perfect, but I will tell you this: I was respectful and obedient, I knew I would have to work hard to get over on my parents, and whenever I thought of acting a fool (from misbehaving at school, underage drinking or sneaking out as a teen) -- the fear of my Mom or Dad getting me good was a powerful motivator to keep me straight! Plus, I had a healthy respect of all authority figures, which has served me well in life.

There's something to be said for that.

In fact, when black people hear white kids rudely talk back to their parents, cursing at their parents or otherwise being disrespectful, we just can't believe it. We think something is wrong with y'all for tolerating that from your kids. (Yes, I said it)

As a new generation of black parents, I see my fellow modern mamas trying to blend a little of the old school with new school ideas of more communication, greater expression, and even a little negotiation (I said a little).

But I don't want to hide that discipline and respect are important to me. And if other means aren't working, I'm definitely willing to lovingly go there. I will however, always close the window.


next: Observations from My Own Front Line
132 comments so far | Post a comment now
Nanad December 11, 2009, 10:56 AM

I use to get beatings. What we had back then was child abuse. I spanked my daughter in Walmart the other day. I had had enough. Running, not listening, taunting me, catch me if you can. I actually tried to get her and she ran from me. Well you dont run from your mother. I told her “when I catch you, you are not going to like it. I grabbed, I spanked and she still thought I was joking. A pop in the cheeks and she was not laughing anymore. I put her in the shopping cart and I can see all eyes on me. I said to myself, I dare someone to make a comment, and they are gonna get some too. My child is 4 going on 5 and is in that trying stage. I have to be strong and let her know You mind your mother and give me the respect that I deserve and be good to me because no one else will. It worked for me, I just hope it works for her. I will continue to spank in public if need be.

Anonymous December 11, 2009, 11:03 AM

Do you also tell your kids that the police are going to come lock them up if they are bad?

Sara December 11, 2009, 11:24 AM

I am white and spank my children when deserved. I applaud you for disciplining your child as you see fit. We know our children the best. Spankings are not beatings. There is a difference. I love my children and care about what they think of themselves and how they feel. Oh time outs and jail time reflect the same in my eyes. There are some children that time outs don’t work for. My children know how to be respectful and when goofing around has gone to far.

Ash December 11, 2009, 11:28 AM

Kimberly what is your problem? How can you imagine saying it has anything to do with race? I’m white I was spanked and so is my child even if we are in public. Any child black, white, tan, red, green, blue, is going to talk back to their parents at one time or another. And then to say spanking is a white persons term is BS. I wish i would have got the memo not to use the term beating since that’s something black people say. Oh and what term to Asian Americans use? And If I hear a black person saying spankings i will make sure to let them know black people say beatings not spanking and I hard that from an award-winning business journalist Kimberly Seals Allers.
You can not categorize and action to a specific race that is ignorant, I’m so sorry your parents didn’t beat enough common knowledge into you brain. You are a perfect example on how people can be any color and racist.

Trish December 11, 2009, 11:38 AM

See this is the reason why America dislikes us blacks. Ignorance.

Arani December 11, 2009, 11:55 AM

@does spanking really help - I started off my post by saying SPANKING SHOULD BE THE LAST RESORT, so clearly, I do not feel as if spanking is the BEST way to raise your children. I still don’t understand/agree with you bringing black men in prison into the conversation as it pertains to white children speaking rudely to their parents but I will say she was wrong for bringing that up as well.

As for the other comments…ie “I bet she’s on welfare too,” or “be quiet NeNe, or should I say LeQuisha…now you can be in jail with your baby daddy”…this just goes to show how stupidity comes in all colors! I would get angry if it weren’t so funny that some people get such joy out of furthering such ridiculous sterotypes.

starla December 11, 2009, 11:55 AM

I don’t think there is anything wrong with spanking. I’m white. My parents spanked me and my brothers and sisters. I have just one child and I want him to know what”your in trouble” means. He isn’t surrounded or in love with crap like t.v. or video games, there is nothing i can take from him. And very rarely does he need to be punished, this lets him know what consequences are.

Shaunna December 11, 2009, 12:03 PM


Be quiet Nae Nae or is it La’Quesha! Why do black people always gotta throw the race card! Now you can be in jail with your baby daddy

- April

Gurl, you know her name is Quesa’Dilla. As for being in jail with her baby daddy, I bet she doesn’t know whose it is! Some one needs to call Maury

Jennifer December 11, 2009, 12:22 PM

April & Coral, you accuse the author of racism and then suggest welfare and baby daddies in jail? Clearly there is reason to continue the discussion of racism in America. It is certainly alive in your comments.

As for the long term effect of spanking, this author is evidence that many learn from the discipline and do not end up in jail as one commenter suggested.

I am a white woman who was occasionally (rarely) spanked. I don’t plan to spank my children because child psychology suggests that it is not necessary, but it didn’t hurt me. I am nearly finished with my law degree.

leeann goodman December 11, 2009, 12:32 PM

Um Im white and was paddled as a child, even my husband was… My little will occasionally get a swat on the behind if she does something dangerous to herself or could cause danger to others… So all Im saying black people are not the only ones who spank, white people do too!!!

Anonymous December 11, 2009, 12:32 PM

RACISM IS ALIVE AND WELL!

Jen December 11, 2009, 12:37 PM

Your just a tad bit racist, don’t you think? Spanking is not limited to one particular ethnicity. Either people believe in corporal punishment or they don’t. TO NANAD, shame on you for thinking it’s acceptable to pop a four year old in the face!

Tara December 11, 2009, 12:38 PM

Spanking is hitting. It’s wrong. I’ve done it and I still think it’s wrong. There is just no justification for hitting a child. Quit telling yourself there is and read a parenting book.

Sarah H. December 11, 2009, 12:38 PM

I love how momlogic proves over and over again, now matter what kind of ridiculous, ignorant crap you write, there will always be a few people who agree with it.

Anonymous December 11, 2009, 12:47 PM

spank away, if more kids were I don’t think we would see the craptastic attitudes we see today. Kids get away with anything and everything and parents are to scared to take control.

TRACY BISHOP December 11, 2009, 12:47 PM

WHAT!! YOU THINK JUST BLACK PEOPLE WHIP THEIR KIDS. WHITE PEOPLE DON’T!!! YOU THINK BLACK FOLKS WOULD AGREE WITH SPANKING YOUR CHILD. SOME WOULD SOME WOULDN’T JUST LIKE WHITE FOLKS. THAT’S WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS COUNTRY PEOPLE LIKE YOU ALWAYS BRINGING UP WHITE AND BLACK. GROW UP AND GET OVER IT NOONE IS AGAINST YOU. IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT HERE IN THE USA!! LEAVE

Anonymous December 11, 2009, 12:58 PM

THIS WOMAN IS AN IDOT. JUST LIKE BLACK’S ALWAYS BRING UP BLACK AND WHITE. WHY COMPLAIN ABOUT WHITE PEOPLE!! NOBODY MAKES YOU LIVE WHERE YOU LIVE. MOVE TO AFRICA IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT. YOU ALL SAY THATS WHERE YOUR FROM EVEN THOUGH YOU WERE BORN IN THE USA. HOW DOES THAT WORK?

TexasTea December 11, 2009, 12:58 PM

My God people, you take her experience as a Black person in suburbia and make it completely negative and absolutely racist. On average, more Blacks spank than Whites do, it’s just a fact. There are fewer Black people in suburbia, fact, so she’s discussing her experience. She’s also not saying All Blacks Spank and Whites don’t. Now if people can get over their racial taunts and discuss the topic: there is nothing wrong with spanking children when it’s a part of a discipline regiment that includes grounding, time-outs, taking away toys, etc.) and comes from BOTH parents with love. Talk to your kids and explain WHY they are being discipline, teach them what the correct action is and make sure they understand that the action is unacceptable.

Anonymous December 11, 2009, 1:20 PM

Alright NANAD! Get her in line!

jazel smith December 11, 2009, 1:33 PM

This is not a black/white thing. I’m black and I do not spank my children. This is about ignorance,if you think that beating your children is helpful, then you should really get educated. Your teaching your child that when things go wrong or when people don’t act according to your rules, then hitting is the answer. This is why many children resort to violence. It is idiotic to think that spanking is the best alternate to discipline. Do you know how many african-americans are in jail for violent crimes who had parents who “spanked” them. Children are children and they will act out and they should not be beat for going through their normal developmental stages. A child can be verbally told and then warned and then placed on punishment by removing the t.v, toys or video games. People just need to learn how to manage their children without resorting to any kind of violence,


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